Miami’s Little Haiti has been an immigrant community for decades. Its streets are lined with small homes and colorful shops that cater to the neighborhood, a predominantly Afro-Caribbean population with a median household income well below Miami’s.
But Little Haiti’s character may be changing.
The developers emphasize their commitment to sustainability. But high-end real estate investments like this raise property values, pushing up property taxes and the cost of living for surrounding neighborhoods.
The potential effect on shops and homeowners and on the culture of the community has stoked controversy and protests. Nearby strip malls have been bought up for new development, leaving long-time businesses with fewer affordable options. Other big developments are now being planned.
It’s the idea that investors and homebuyers are changing their behavior and moving from coastal areas into poorer, higher-elevation neighborhoods like Little Haiti, which sits on a ridge less than a mile from the bay, in anticipation of worsening climate change risks, such as sea-level rise. Miami is often held up as an example.
But are Miami’s investors and homebuyers really motivated by climate change?
A different kind of gentrification
The story goes that Miami homebuyers are abandoning the coasts – where high tides can already bring street flooding in some areas – and are looking for higher-elevation areas because they want to escape climate change.
That isn’t what we’re finding, though.
In Yale’s Climate Opinion Survey of Miami-Dade County in 2021, only half of Miami residents said they believe global warming will harm them personally – far lower than the 70% who said that in Delaware and the 90% in Canada, Western Europe and Japan. Another survey found 40% of Miami-Dade residents weren’t concerned about the impact climate change might have on the market.
In a new study, our team at the University of Miami found a more nuanced picture of what is actually pushing homeowners to higher ground.
For the most part, we found that the shift away from the coasts is fueled by costs. Flood risk plays a role through the rising cost of flood insurance, but much of the shift is plain old gentrification – developers looking for cheaper land and spinning it as a more sustainable choice to win over public officials and future residents.
Rather than bottom-up pressure built on residents’ alarm about sea-level rise, we found a continuation of the usual rational investment decisions.
Developers are driving the process
Present-day “climate gentrification” in Miami is largely determined and driven by capitalist investment opportunities – relatively lower prices and greater expected returns – which are the characteristics of the traditional gentrification process.
We found that neither homebuyers nor real estate agents are driving this process today in Miami. Rather, developers are using the concept of climate risk to market properties in more elevated areas and are working in tandem with policymakers to facilitate urban redevelopment.
Miami is very different from other global cities, in that its wealthy homebuyers and second-home buyers exhibit fewer concerns about rising sea levels and climate change. A large percentage of Miami homebuyers – about 13% in 2021 – don’t live in the U.S. and may evaluate risk differently, seeing Miami properties as safer investments than they have at home or as future second homes.
Miami’s gentrification also isn’t limited to higher-elevation neighborhoods. In coastal areas such as Miami Beach, taxes and housing and rental prices are rising, and poorer people are being pushed out of neighborhoods. Miami’s average rent is now over $2,800 a month, up 16% from October 2021 to October 2022. That’s about $800 higher than the U.S. average, and it rose at nearly twice the national rate over the past year.
Coastal homebuyers should be more concerned
Climate change is without question a risk for Miami. The insurance industry warns that sea-level rise and moderate flooding of up to 1 foot will affect 48% of total properties in oceanfront Miami-Dade County by 2050.
Homebuyers should be more concerned than they are.
We believe “climate gentrification” is a meaningful concept for exploring how the impacts and costs of climate change will shift housing and urban inequalities in the future. But so far, the idea that gentrification is fueled by climate change in Miami doesn’t match reality.
Read the full story from WPIX.
That cute top you purchased for less than your morning coffee, wore twice, washed once, and threw away because it fell apart as soon as it hit the washing machine agitator will sit in a landfill, leeching pollutants for up to 200 years.
If fast fashion (and polyester) existed during Susan B. Anthony’s lifetime, the dresses she would have worn advocating for women’s rights would still be lingering in a landfill.
Read the full story from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method for producing a key component of lithium-ion batteries. The result is a more affordable battery from a faster, less wasteful process that uses less toxic material.
Read the full story at Food Navigator.
PepsiCo wants to see 20% of its beverages served via reusable models by 2030: highlighting the four approaches it will focus on to achieve this goal.
Read the full story at ESG Today.
Home improvement retailer Lowe’s announced today a series of new climate commitments, including a goal to achieve net zero emissions across its value chain by 2050.
Read the full story at Waste Dive.
Zero waste jobs are opportunities to support workers in overburdened communities, according to the National Zero Waste Conference, but they must prioritize circularity and environmental justice.
Read the full story at Centered.
Scientists and entrepreneurs around the world are working on innovations to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and ease the gas’s impact on climate change. While some focus on preventing CO2 from being released in the first place, such as with low- or no-carbon transportation technologies, others are perfecting methods for grabbing CO2 directly from the air and storing it or turning it into valuable products.
Researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology are doing the latter by creating man-made rocks from CO2. The resulting material also could be used to make cement. Cement production is a carbon-intensive industry and is becoming more so, but innovative carbon capture technologies can help to reverse the trend, according to the International Energy Agency.
Read the full story from Argonne National Laboratory.
Climate change contributed to many deadly and costly disasters in recent years. As the U.S. looks to combat climate change, solar energy is increasingly seen as a large part of the answer. However, ground-mounted solar facilities occupy large areas of land. What will that land and soil be like after 30 or more years of use for generating clean power?
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are partnering with collaborators from other national laboratories and state, academic and private institutions to examine that question. DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office recently selected Argonne to lead a new project to better understand the changes that will occur in soils. The team will study what happens when past harmful practices such as pesticide use and annual tilling are stopped, the land under and around solar panels is allowed to rest and, in some cases, is planted with native grasses and wildflowers. The project is a part of the Deploying Solar with Wildlife and Ecosystem Services Benefits (SolWEB) funding program.